Saturday, May 24, 2014

Philologos on Genesis and the Enuma Elish

PHILOLOGOS: Legends of the Fall. Did Genesis Originate in Babylon? Genesis is such a complicated compedium of traditions that it is difficult to talk about it "originating" in any particular place. As Philologos concludes, any connection between the "abyss" (tehom) of Genesis 1 and Tiamat in the Babylonian creation story (the Enuma Elish) is pretty thin, but not entirely to be dismissed. Much more interesting is this parallel:
Consider, for example, the verse in Chapter 74 of Psalms in which the Psalmist says to God, “Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength, thou didst break the heads of the sea monsters [taninim] in the waters.” Although nowhere in the Bible is there any actual recounting of such an episode, it is clear that a tradition about God having subdued the forces of the depths at the time of Creation existed in Hebrew circles, too.
Hints of this story also appear in places like Exodus 15, Psalm 89:5-11, and Isaiah 51:9-11 and a full-length version is found in the Ugaritic Baal Cycle (where Yamm, "Sea," plays the role of Tiamat).

This is an old Philologos column, but I haven't noted it before and it gives a nice summary of the Enuma Elish.